Monday, September 10, 2018 at 12:15pm to 1:30pm
Uris Hall, G08
From 2015-2016, the speaker served as chief economist of Bangladesh’s central bank, and will use this venue to share his experiences that tell a story of how his dream of advising policy, from his best judgment and theoretical background, eventually nosedived whenever they confronted short-term political interests of the regime. Economic theories took a backseat whenever political priorities or the consideration for votes became dominant. While the cases will be shared in this lecture, two simple examples may clarify how politics ruled policymaking even hurts the long-term benefit for the economy. The government kept too high interest in its saving instruments in the name of helping the poor and the vulnerable. Actually, the benefits went to the rich, disturbing other deposit rates in the banking sector. The speaker remained vocal against this interest rate disparity and eventually failed to convince the government because political considerations outweighed economic rationality a market economy warrants. The second example illustrates how the speaker’s advocacy on making domestic fuel prices consistent with international prices came under attack. The government monopoly kept fuel prices high as before, thwarting the possibility of lowering inflation and it resorted to earning extra cash by keeping fuel prices high and finally feeding its fiscal deficit. Both cases show how political considerations govern economic policymaking and why governments in developing nations do not want to give adequate independence to their central banks.
Professor Biru Paksha Paul teaches at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Cortland since 2007. He served as chief economist of Bangladesh Bank (Central Bank) over 2015-2016 when he acted as the lead author of monetary policy, directed a team of 40 researchers, attended conferences, coordinated with the ministries, interacted with universities, and spoke on public policy in the media. He also served as a guest speaker at Dhaka University and various public administration academies in Bangladesh.
Dr. Paul received his MSS in economics in 1987 from Dhaka University and MBA in finance in 1999 from the University of Technology-Sydney. He received his PhD in economics from the State University of New York at Binghamton in 2007. He received the outstanding achievement in research award 2015 SUNY Cortland. His books in Bengali include the topics such as the free market economy, banking, growth, institutions, and South Asia. His research-based book, “Essays on Indian Business Cycles and Inflation” reflects his interest in South Asian economies. Mr. Paul writes in Bangladesh’s leading newspapers on macro policies. His book, “Empowering Economic Growth for Bangladesh: Institutions, Investment Strategies, and Macro Policies” is coming in September 2018.